Betting suspended on Australian Open doubles match, players deny fixing

    Match-fixing claims cast shadow over Aussie Open
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    Story highlights

    • Allegations surround match between David Marrero and Lara Arruabarrena and Lukasz Kubot and Andrea Hlavackova
    • The players themselves have denied any wrongdoing
    • Kubot and Hlavackova said the Tennis Integrity Unit had talked to them

    Melbourne (CNN)Players involved in a mixed-doubles match at the Australian Open where betting was suspended under suspicious circumstances said they have been approached by the body that investigates match-fixing in tennis. They also supported their opponents, who were at the center of the controversy.

    Allegations of match-fixing in tennis in general overshadowed the start of the grand slam tournament and Sunday a clash that would normally be considered low profile in Melbourne was thrust into the spotlight following a report in The New York Times.
      The newspaper reported that Pinnacle Sports -- described as the world's biggest eSports bookmaker -- suspended bets on a first-round encounter between Spanish pair David Marrero and Lara Arruabarrena and Poland's Lukasz Kubot and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic.
      According to the story, almost all of the money spent by bettors was placed on Kubot and Hlavackova to win. They did, 6-0 6-3.
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      The newspaper added that more than $25,000 was put down on the match with another betting site, Betfair, when other mixed doubles matches scheduled for around the same time drew less than $2,000 combined.
      Marrero and Arruabarrena immediately denied any wrongdoing, with Marrero -- once an elite doubles player who won the year-end doubles championship with Fernando Verdasco in 2013 -- telling reporters he was suffering from a knee injury.
      Kubot and Hlavackova addressed the media in a standing room only press conference after they lost Monday and said the Tennis Integrity Unit had chatted to the duo, who are both grand slam champions in doubles.
      "I just spoke to the TIU and I will keep it confidential," said Kubot.
      They didn't reveal any details about the conversation or its length.
      Kubot felt that Marrero and Arruabarrena were trying their best yet also said, "to be honest we were so focused on our game."
      Added Hlavackova: "I don't think either of us are concentrated" on what the opponents were doing. "We're playing on our side of the court and we are playing our best. We have to concentrate on the momentum and that's what we did yesterday," she said.
      They were unanimous in saying that the players shouldn't have been mentioned without proof.

      Investigation

      The Australian Open released a statement minutes prior to the press conference, though said nothing about the match on Court 6.
      "Tennis Australia, along with the other governing bodies of tennis, will continue to work closely with the relevant police authorities and the Tennis Integrity Unit in regard to integrity matters.
      "The TIU has again confirmed today that it is its policy to review and investigate every allegation of corruption in tennis.
      "The TIU does not comment on the progress of any investigation until and unless there is a sanction determined."

      Widespread claims

      The issue of match-fixing in tennis exploded last week after a report from BuzzFeed News and the BBC claimed corruption was rife in the sport. It stated that a core group of 16 players who have been inside the top 50, including one grand slam singles winner, "have repeatedly been reported for losing games when highly suspicious bets have been placed against them."
      No names were mentioned but an online blog Thursday named Lleyton Hewitt as the grand slam champion in question.
      Hewitt, a former world No. 1, angrily denied doing anything wrong after the final singles match of his career.
      "I think it's a joke to deal with it," said Hewitt to reporters. "You know, obviously, yeah, there's no possible way. I know my name's now been thrown into it.
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      "I don't think anyone here would think that I've done anything, corruption or match-fixing. It's just absurd.
      "For anyone that tries to go any further with it, then good luck. Take me on with it. Yeah, it's disappointing. I think throwing my name out there with it makes the whole thing an absolute farce."
      Kubot was "sad" to see, he said, his idol Hewitt dragged into the affair.
      "I feel very sad that it happened, his name right here in his favorite grand slam."
      Novak Djokovic, the current No. 1, became entangled, too, when an Italian newspaper suggested he didn't try in a match at the Paris Masters in 2007. He lost to Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in straight sets.
      Like Hewitt, Djokovic denied any wrongdoing.